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Brotherly Love on a Bun

We’ve seen the Liberty Bell and we’ve been to Independence Hall. What we’re looking for today is a more contemporary Philadelphia experience: the cheesesteak. And not just any cheesesteaks, but the best. Read More…

Fallingwater First Impressions

Unnaturally smooth and rectangular terraces thrust out of rough rock and leafy foliage. I’m struck by the contrast between the chaotic and vibrant beauty of nature and the symmetry of this beige monstrosity.

It’s ugly. Read More…

Museums of Memories

Monet's Garden, Giverny France

Monet's Garden, Giverny France

More than just art, I find museums to store fantastic collections of memories. They’re life sized photo albums of our travels. It is always a great joy to find beautiful representations of places we’ve been, or to revisit a fantastic work we originally saw in a different city. It’s a bit like reliving the old and discovering the new all at the same time.

Shannon’s post from this morning reminded me of the terrific Monet we saw in Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Art Museum, which to me was more than just a painting. My first glimpse of Nympheas brought instant recognition and a flood of memories. I knew from the size and the shape of the canvas that this work was intended to hang in Paris’s awesome musée de l’Orangerie; a place we visited in 2007. The Orangerie has a world renowned collection of impressionist art, the centerpiece of which displays eight large-format Monets along the walls of two oval rooms. Pittsburgh’s Nympheas belongs to that series.

Standing in front of that painting I was several places at once. In Pittsburgh I appreciated a Monet. In Paris I photographed my wife who, in retrospect, would have chosen a different blouse for the occasion. In Giverny, I walked through Monet’s gardens and admired the water lilies that where the inspiration for these masterpieces. All of these experiences, past and present, embodied in one work of art. Is it any wonder we so enjoy museums?

Musee de l'Orangerie

Shannon at Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris, France, 2007

Our Kind of Art

Claude Monet Nympheas

As you might have gathered from Brian’s last post, we prefer our art bigger and bolder than a white canvas no matter how intricate the monochromatic layers are supposed to be.

Claude Monet’s Nympheas (Water Lilies) is one of the many colorful paintings on display in the Carnegie Museum of Art, which was founded more than a century ago and has one of the best collections we’ve seen during our U.S. travels.

Tycoon Andrew Carnegie envisioned a cultural temple where ordinary folks could marvel at European wonders they would never be able to afford to see in person. He conjured up the Hall of Architecture, a specially-built, sky lit room housing the third largest collection of plaster casts in the world.

A façade of a French Benedictine abbey takes up one entire wall, measuring about 40 feet high and 78 feet wide. We’ve seen the originals of  some of the pieces, like the ornate bronze doors on the Baptistry in Florence. It’s a dazzling display. No convincing needed.

Carnegie Museum of Art, Hall of Architecture

A Sucker Born Every Minute

It’s a sales job that would make P.T. Barnum proud: convince the world that something every American family has done to their ceilings for decades is actually a visionary artistic accomplishment.

In all fairness, we did find the Robert Ryman exhibit to be one of the most entertaining in Pittsburgh’s outstanding Carnegie Museum of Art; although probably not in the way the artist or the museum intended. Read More…

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